Overheads as a Performance Indicator in the Local Public Sector Organizations

  •  Christian Rainero    
  •  Alessandro Migliavacca    
  •  Sara Reano    


If we consider business forms from the point of view of satisfying needs, public companies are consumer companies that satisfy collective needs with the aim of redistributing income. They differ from production companies in that they do not have direct access to the market, so that the sources of financing derive from the taxes imposed by law, while the uses concern management costs, capital investments and debt repayments. Maintaining this interpretation, another category belonging to consumer companies is that of non-profit companies, which can be equated partially to public companies precisely because of the absence of a real market of reference and the finding of sources of funding for the performance of the activity mainly from external contributions without consideration. The only difference is inherent in the fact that such contributions cannot be imposed by law and are aimed at assisting and providing services and benefits to the community of reference, in the absence of profit and capital distribution. Therefore, if in the public sector performance is mainly and historically linked to the management of financial resources and public debt, in the field of nonprofit there is a different literature focused more on the control of economic aspects (and in particular the costs of the activity) as performance indicators of the company's activity. At the international level, and in particular in the United States, the use of the incidence of overheads is an element of examination to assess the performance of the non-profit sector. In this article, the subject of analysis is the possibility of using the overhead level to assess the performance of a public body. The analysis is carried out by comparing the incidence of overheads on the revenues of Italian municipalities in the years 2015-2017 with the performance indicators given by the deficit parameters established by current administrative legislation. From this analysis, it is possible to identify the presence of a correlation between the performance indicators and the incidence of overheads, in which the likelihood of the presence of “good”, “excellent” or “excellent” indicators is given by levels of overhead in the region of 10% of the total revenue assessed, with a margin of tolerance of 3% in positive for smaller entities (up to 5,000 inhabitants), and 3% in negative for larger entities.

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